Acclimating Your Pet to Its Kennel/Pet Carrier/Crate

It is a very good idea, especially for the first time pet traveller, to get acclimated with its travel kennel well in advance of any long-distance travel.  The first step to getting a pet acclimated to its kennel is to make sure that you have selected the proper size kennel to begin with.  If you take a look at the picture to the right, you can see that this is NOT the correct size kennel.  Buster’s head is way above the top of the kennel.  Therefore, he should have a larger kennel.  For your pet to be in the correct size kennel, the pet should be able to stand up completely and not be able to touch the top of the kennel with its head.  For international pet travel, the space required above the top of the head is even greater and up to 3″ of headroom is required for some countries.  Your pet also needs to be able to turn around while inside the kennel and be able to lie down comfortably.  For those with supersized animals that won’t fit into even a giant sized kennel, can, in some cases, have a suitable custom kennel built so that you won’t have to!

Once you have selected the correct size kennel, it is time to get your pet familiar with spending time inside of it.  The more time ahead of your move that you choose to train your pet to do this, the better.  The first thing you should do when you purchase the kennel is just to leave it sitting out in the middle of your house.  If it is the type of kennel that has two halves that fit together and it has not been put together, leave it like that.  Let your pet get used to just being around it without making a big fuss over it.  Next, add their pet bed or a blanket to the inside of half of the kennel and see if they will begin sleeping in the half kennel.  If they do, great!  Add the top of the kennel, but not the door and see if they keep going in on their own.  If they do, the battle is pretty much won without a fight, as your pet will see its kennel as a comfort spot.  Add the door, and begin leaving your furry friend in the kennel for short times while you spend time in another room of the house.

If your pet refuses to enter the kennel, this is where it can get challenging.  Keeping the door off the kennel, lead the pet into the kennel with a treat or its favorite toy, then praise the accomplishment. Let the animal leave as soon as it wants to.  Do this several times until your pet is comfortable with entering the kennel.  How long this takes is up to your judgment of your pet’s temperament.  Some pets take only a few tries, some several hours (obviously with breaks in-between), and some may take several days. You must be attentive to your pet’s behavior during this process, while at the same time you want to try your best not to show too much emotion for your pet’s success, or lack thereof. Pets have a great feelfor human nervousness. Stay calm and stay positive and your pet will too!

Your pet can love his kennel just as much.

When your pet is comfortable with entering the kennel, place a familiar blanket, shirt, or thin pet bed (something with the family “scent”) inside and close the door behind your pet and leave the room for a short period of time….about 5 – 10 minutes.  Come back and let your pet out of the kennel and praise your friend for spending time in it.  After you have done this several times, making each interval in the kennel a bit longer, leave them in the kennel while you go out of the house for about an hour.  How did your pet do?  If okay, then good for the both of you, your pet is pretty much ready for travel.  You simply should keep lengthening the time they spend in the kennel up to the amount of time as their flight will be.  If not, shorten the amount of time that you are away but make sure you leave the house.  Usually, the whining that they do is because they want to be next to us.

Once they have gotten used to spending time inside their kennel, the rest of the trip should be a breeze!